Ministries under fire over realignment of laws | The Herald 13 October 2014 by Conrad Mwanawashe
GOVERNMENT has drafted the Consumer Protection Bill which will result in the establishment of a Consumer Court and a Consumer Protection Commission, a development that will empower consumers. The Consumer Protection Bill will be launched by the Minister of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday at Meikles before the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe embarks on a nationwide public consultation on the new legislation.
“We are so excited. What is paramount is that it is going to result in the establishment of a Consumer Court specifically to deal with the area of enforcement which was lacking in the previous legislation,” said CCZ national chairman Mr Phillip Bvumbe in an interview with The Herald Business.
The Consumer Protection Bill seeks to establish the Consumer Protection Commission whose functions include; coordinating and networking consumer activities; promoting fair business practices and protecting consumers from unreasonable, unjust otherwise improper trade practices, deceptive, misleading, unfair and fraudulent conduct.
It also seeks to improve consumer awareness, information and encourage responsible and informed consumer choice and behaviour.
Other benefits include promoting consumer confidence, empowerment and the development of culture of consumer responsibility through individual and group education, vigilant advocacy and activism; providing a consistent, accessible and efficient system of resolution of disputes arising from consumer transaction. The Consumer Court shall be a special court for the purpose of enforcing rights and serve as a court of record.
“No longer will we be called a toothless bulldog. Through the Act the consumer will have teeth,” he said.
The Consumer Court will be chaired by a senior president, who could either be a former judge or any person who qualifies to be a judge. The senior president and other presidents of the Consumer Court will be appointed by President Mugabe in liaison with the Judicial Services Commission. However, the CCZ wants the Consumer Court’s activities to be decentralised to the communities so that it becomes accessible to the vulnerable. After the launch, CCZ will take the Bill for consultation and input from the consumers.
“We want to ensure that there’s meaningful input by all stakeholders because the Bill cannot go to Parliament without input from all stakeholders, especially our constituency, the consumers,” said Mr Bvumbe.
The Consumer Protection Bill is one of the Bills on the agenda of the 8th Session of Parliament.
“We are hoping that within the next eight weeks we will have visited the various provinces for public consultative forums. Details of the public consultative forums will be announced on Wednesday,” said Mr Bvumbe.